Another year, another return to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut for Bellator. This time the Connecticut blue bloods will host a light heavyweight tournament that is arguably the best Bellator has ever produced, with King Mo, Rampage, former champion Christian M’Pumbu and Mikhail Zayats rounding out the 2-round tourny. Let’s jump right into the main event. Rampage Jackson (33-11) made his presence known in Bellator with a huge first-round knockout of Joey Beltran at Bellator 108, which was supposed to be the first Bellator PPV before Tito Ortiz dropped out of his fight with Rampage. While the fight with Beltran played to Rampage’s strengths, a slugfest, will former Bellator LHW champ, Chistian M’Pumbu (18-5-1) derail the Rampage train? Well, this kid… Wait, what? M’Pumbu is older than Rampage? Yep. And Rampage, even this being Rampage 3.0 and post-knee surgery. M’Pumbu’s inactivity in the Bellator is notorious (to me) and as usual, it’s been a while since he last fought. One year to be exact. He’s on a 2-fight losing streak, losing to Travis Wiuff in a non-title fight back in October of 2011, then losing his belt to Attila Veigh at Bellator 98. Yes, Attila Veigh is the actual light heavyweight champion of Bellator, not Emanuel Newton. So complicated. All of these signs to Rampage walking through M’Pumbu, but all it takes is one good shot or M’Pumbu landing just one or two good takedowns to sway the judges. In the co-main and the other side of the bracket for the light heavyweight stands King Mo Lawal (11-3-1) who will enter his third LHW tournament against Mikhail Zayats (22-7), a legit Russian badass who has wins over Jacob Noe, Babalu Sobral and most recently subbed Aaron Rosa at Bellator 103. Wrestling will be the factor here, and Emanuel Newton was able to defeat Zayats using his wrestling to keep Zayats and his roughly 75% finish rate at bay. Zayats throws with a lot of power and can get wreckless, but so can King Mo. If Mo uses his, frankly, fantastic takedowns and elite wrestlign instead of bobbing his head with one hand down like he usually does, he’ll win this fight. Mo is a physical specimen that doesn’t tire easily. On the feet, it’s hard to say. Both men could finish each other as they both brandish good stand up, but Zayats is pretty quick on the feet and he is more proactive than Mo’s counterpunching and lack of combos. Still, this should be everything that you love about the LHW division right here. I’m a Mo fan, and this tournament was made just to get Mo and Rampage in the finals after all, but this is no gimme. The featherweight tournament begins in earnest as former UFC talent Diego Nunes (18-5) will try to right his ship after losing his last two fights. One in the UFC (to Nik Lentz to send him packing) and the other at the hands of Patricio Freire in just 79 seconds as he was knocked out by the eventual winner of the season 9 tournament winner. Nunes is still a quality talent who probably shouldn’t have been let go by the UFC, and he’s going to try to prove it by beating Matt Bessette (12-4), winner of 4 in a row and 3-0 in Bellator. Bessette brandishes a BJJ blackbelt and prefers to grind down his opponents to get the win. Nunes will likely try to keep this on the feet, but if it goes to the ground it could be a fun and interesting grappling battle. On paper, Nunes holds every advantage, but there’s something to be said about a surging fighter and one on a downward trend. That said, Nunes knows he needs to win. Bellator is bringing Shooto to American shores, as Goiti Yamauchi (16-1) looks to make a big impression in Bellator. His opponent is Will Martinez (8-2-1), winner of 7 in a row and 4-0 in Bellator, this could be quite the fight right here. Some think this is all Yaamauchi, and I don’t necessarily think that’s true. Yamauchi has some slick grappling skills, but Martinez is a good athlete and a legitimate tough guy. He has a 100% finish rate compared to Yamauchi’s 87.5% finish rate, so expect both men to work towards the finish. That’s Yamauchi on the ground and Martinez standing up. This is one of those fights that styles make. The third Bellator featherweight tournament quarterfinal is between former finalist and ridiculously violent Mike Richman (16-3) and Desmond Green (9-2). Richman has finished 14 of 16 fights, with a win over Stepanyan at Bellator at Bellator 106 getting him into this tournament. Richman can never, ever be accused of not leaving it all in the cage, and he goes all-out every fight. He’s a meat tornado, looking to take off a head or tear off a limb, while Green is only now discovering his violent side as an NCAA Division I wrestler. Green is 1-1 in Bellator, and stuggles when he can’t get the takedown, but when he can he does a good job of wearing out his opponents and advancing into position to get a sub. This should be a really great fight in which we see a nice scramble or three. The final Bellator featherweight quarterfinal further illustrates the ‘M-1 invasion’ angle that Bellator has been fostering lately, as Daniel Weichel (31-8) makes his way to the cage by way of Germany, against Scott Cleve (14-3). Cleve has heavy hands and is 1-0 in Bellator, but it looks like it’s his fight to lose, as this is a stylistic matchup that just doesn’t favor him. Weichel is nasty in the clinch, and will work the takedowns early and often to get into position to submit his opponent. He has 19 submissions in his career, while Cleve isn’t awful, he’s lost to worse via rear naked choke. This should be a scrappy battle that won’t go to the judges.